Donald Trump: I've Asked Boeing to Price a Lockheed F-35 Competitor

Trump cited the "tremendous cost" of the F-35.

ByABC News
December 22, 2016, 7:27 PM

— -- President-elect Donald Trump has taken to Twitter again to express his displeasure about the price tag of an aircraft.

"Based on the tremendous cost and cost overruns of the Lockheed Martin F-35, I have asked Boeing to price-out a comparable F-18 Super Hornet!" he tweeted Thursday.

Trump's tweet comes the day after he met with the CEOs of both Boeing and Lockheed Martin to discuss the F-35 fighter and the new Air Force One.

In recent weeks Trump has tweeted about the high costs of the new Air Force One and the F-35 that is intended to become the main fighter aircraft for the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.

On Wednesday Trump met separately with the CEOs of both Boeing and Lockheed Martin at his Mar-A-Lago estate in Florida to discuss both programs. Those meetings were followed by a separate meeting with senior military officials involved with the development of both aircraft.

The Pentagon is in the process of purchasing 2,443 F-35 fighters that will become the standard fighter aircraft for the military. The F-35 has stealth capability and is one of the most highly computerized aircraft to ever fly.

Each F-35 costs about $112 million to produce, but Lockheed Martin estimates that costs will go down as more aircraft are produced so that by 2019 each F-35 will cost $85 million.

The F/A-18 is a fighter aircraft that went into use in the 1980s by the Navy and Marine Corps as a carrier-based aircraft. It is not flown by the Air Force.

The Navy and Marine Corps are in the process of modernizing their F/A-18 aircraft until they are all eventually replaced by the F-35.

"I had a productive meeting with President-elect Trump this afternoon," Marillyn Hewson, the CEO of Lockheed Martin, said in a statement following her meeting Wednesday with Trump. "I appreciated the opportunity to discuss the importance of the F-35 program and the progress we've made in bringing costs down. The F-35 is a critical program to our national security, and I conveyed our continued commitment to delivering an affordable aircraft to our U.S. military and our allies."

Trump later met with Air Force generals and Navy admirals involved with both programs.

He told reporters the meeting was focused on "trying to get costs down cost primarily the F-35 trying to get the costs down cause it's a program that's very very expensive."

"We are going to get the costs down and get it done beautifully," he added. He described the senior military officials he met with as "great people, amazing people, I'm very impressed with them and very good negotiators."

Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenberg described his meeting with Trump about the new Air Force One as a "very productive" discussion. Muilenberg said that they could produce the new Air Force One "affordably" for less than the $4 billion price tag that Trump has described for the aircraft that will go into service in 2024.

"We will get it done for less than that," Muilenberg told reporters.

The Air Force has projected that over the next five years the new Air Force One could cost $2.78 billion, but there is no full contract with Boeing yet. For now, the Air Force has spent almost $170 million on three small contracts with Boeing related to the project.

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